Forrest Lalaguna embodies perseverance.
For the Centaurus sophomore, it doesn’t matter how many surgeries he’s had to recover from. And it’s doesn’t matter how long it takes him to get to school each day – as long as he’s at the right school.
Lalaguna, ranked No. 7 in Class 5A at 182 pounds in Tim Yount’s On The Mat rankings, will be among the Warriors to watch at the fiercely competitive Top of The Rockies Invitational Wrestling Tournament (Friday and Saturday, Centaurus High School). But his story is far from typical.
At first glance, an 18-4 record makes him appear like an emerging sophomore who is having a stellar season. That part is accurate, but there’s much more to it. For starters, Lalaguna battled nagging injuries through junior high before needing two surgeries last season.
Spoken like a true wrestler, Lalaguna didn’t want to reveal the type of surgery so competing wrestlers don’t target the area.
“As far as those two surgeries, I’m healed up and ready to go,” he said. “I don’t really have any pain with that anymore. I’m fully recovered.”
Despite the positive prognosis, Lalaguna would only allow that the surgeries were: “lower body, and on the same thing. But at different points in time.”
Then there is the commuting issue. Lalaguna lives in Longmont. His sister, Destiny, attends Longmont High and plays soccer for the Trojans (she also doubles as Centaurus’ wrestling manager). But Forrest takes the RTD to and from Lafayette every day so he can attend Centaurus, where he wrestles for coach Cisco Gonzales.
That concept seems a bit far-fetched — until you hear his reasons.
“I was going to school in the St. Vrain Valley for all of my life, through the seventh grade, and my grades were really bad, really poor,” Lalaguna explained. “I remember my seventh-grade year, I had a couple D’s and a couple F’s. I never really had high grades.
“I needed a change, so I moved to Angevine Middle School in eighth grade. My grades improved right away. I think eighth-grade year I had one D and the rest were B’s mostly.”
By attending Angevine, located in close proximity to Centaurus, Lalaguna extracted himself from the familiar pratfalls of attending school close to home. One of his primary motivations was to be eligible for wrestling.
“Boulder Valley School District has a different teaching method, and I guess it is what Forrest needed because he is finally successful academically,” said Forrest’s father, Marco Lalaguna. “As far as the wrestling goes, we love having coach Cisco as his high school mentor.”
Marco Lalaguna said Forrest leaves Longmont by bus each morning at 6:30 a.m. and gets home around 8 or 8:30 p.m. during wrestling season, using the commute time to do his homework.
Longmont and Skyline also have allowed Lalaguna to use their wrestling rooms, and he has a good rapport with the wrestlers and coaches at those schools as well.
With the injuries and his academic struggles in the rearview mirror, Lalaguna now can take a keener focus on wrestling. He is eyeing the Top of the Rockies as a measuring stick for where he stacks up.
The 182-pound field alone includes the Nos. 1 and 2 wrestlers in Class 3A, five of the top 10 in each 4A and 5A, and a bevy of upper-echelon out-of-state competitors. (Included are 4A No. 1 Kyle Couch of Mead and No. 2 Zach Stodden of Broomfield).
“Hopefully it’ll show where I’m at,” he said. “Centaurus has been going to a couple tournaments lately, and I didn’t really do anything at the Warrior Classic in Grand Junction (2-2 record), but I got to show myself and I knew where I was at.
“This tournament starts on Friday, and hopefully I can make it to Saturday.”
Whatever happens, Lalaguna has to feel delighted that he is back on the mat, healthy and realizing his potential. But again, the true wrestler inside of him won’t let Lalaguna pat himself on the back too fervently or let him get too comfortable.
“I feel really good about the season so far, but I can’t be too confident in myself,” Lalaguna said. “I know there’s always going to be someone better than me and pushing harder than me, and I just feel like I have to top that man.”